Lately, good boys have been coming out of the woodwork. You can spot them a mile away by their gee-whiz grins and GQ grooming. Their toothy, soulful smiles can break your heart. Of course they’re super-civil and never raise their voices in public. You wouldn’t hesitate to bring these dewy-eyed boys home to meet your momma.
Don’t do it! What you see is NOT what you get from these two-dimensional paper dolls… Stepford wives in drag. Who are these people, you ask?
Let’s start with the godfather of them all:
Pete Wilson. Once nicknamed ‘Mr. Clean,’ Wilson introduced to the city the art and craft of big-time political ambition. He knew how to pull the wool over the eyes of environmentalists and growth control advocates while catering to business leaders, land developers, and the downtown crowd -- all the time giving short shrift to the ranks of San Diego’s working class and regular neighborhoods. Wilson’s canny Republican mentors and consultants were like horse-whisperers, steering him down his political path. He set the pace for the young, knockout, exquisitely ambitious political darlings who’ve followed in his tracks. He may seem like ancient history but his legacy lingers.
One heir apparent is Scott Peters – the Democratic rising star who spent two terms on the City Council mouthing liberal-sounding sentiments and sanctimoniously voting the opposite way. Peters’ quasi-environmental credentials, water-carrying talents, and well-honed ability to simultaneously practice prevarication and wide-eyed sincerity suggest he may be Wilson’s natural son. His personal wealth and very good boy persona recently orbited Peters directly into a congressional seat. For sure, he was better than the alternative… paltry consolation for many of us voters.
Of course there’s Nathan Fletcher -- our changeling little lord Fauntleroy is still hanging around town, rearranging pencils and staying busy-looking in temporary trophy jobs. He’s another good boy who’s mastered the ‘Mr. Clean’ script. With armor as impervious as sharkskin Fletcher patiently circles the waters, ready to strike the moment his feeders throw him the sign. Neither fish nor fowl, he's perfected the evasive, fence-sitting, opportunistic, indeterminate, but disarming qualities of a meticulous good boy.
Carl DeMaio? from the get-go he’s disqualified from the good boy club -- not that he, too, can't be smooth, wily, and occasionally disarming. But he’s not silky enough to fool anyone for long. DeMaio is a special edition cardboard cutout, a paid peddler for the anti-government Reason Foundation and other like-minded corporations. He can't manage to disguise his contempt for government and the public process, so try as he may he'll never gain speed in the race for best good boy.
Hands down, the best show in town is Todd Gloria.
He wins as the most over-the-top good boy of them all. Something happened along the way that turned this potentially effective elected official into a caricature fresh out of the ‘Mr. Clean’ playbook... a whippersnapper who would be king even before he graduates to long pants.
What turned Todd Gloria’s head? a hungry ego... the lure of upward mobility... sycophants whispering in his ear, showering him with praise? When did he switch sides to become a master of guile, self-deceit, hubris, sucking-up? What transmogrified his earlier good-guy inclinations into a parody of good boy values and virtues?
Remember when Linda Bernhardt got her head turned and went up in flames? Think back to when pampered, overinflated Susan Golding burned her bridges.
It’s never a pretty sight to watch potentially good elected officials – male or female -- become politicians for sale.